About Soul’s Ease and Donna
My name is Donna, I grew up in northern Ohio, went west for college at Arizona State University and stayed a while, enjoying the desert climate. The time came when it seemed right to move back near family, and I started with a couple of years in Florida, near my best friend and most of my father’s side of the family. 31 years ago I decided to move to Roanoke VA, as my parents were planning to retire to the country about 60 miles down the Blue Ridge Parkway from there. It has felt like home since I arrived, but the next chapter of my life means another change, I am rapidly approaching retirement.
I have worked at many varied jobs over the years, but finally settled on computer programming (my degree is in math) and was hired by Norfolk Southern (Railroad). I have been able to invest in my own home, which will be my nest egg for building the next home. I will not be reaching the magic 30 years for the best retirement benefits, but it is time now. My plans for retirement began with 4 other women friends and I, who were all single at the time and living in different cities and started emailing each other as a group. We discussed practical issues of being alone as we age and came up with an idea for a retirement colony of friends. Sharon came up with the name Soul’s Ease. Over the years our situations changed, relationships, jobs, and financial, and Peggy passed away young. But we have had discussions with many friends over time and still kept the idea in the back of our minds.
Sharon took a very early retirement from her job, to return to school for a new career. However, the recession hit her hard, and the job she had is gone. My parents have both passed away and I received enough from inheritance to be able to make a down-payment on some property, so Sharon and I started looking in upstate South Carolina, not far from Clemson University (her school). Last spring we found a place that would suit us, 3.3 acres with an existing house that did not need a lot of work. The land is relatively flat and much is clear.
Sharon moved into the house, and I returned home to complete a big project at work and make plans for early retirement. Nearly 63, but I have been stressing myself and need to slow down to feel healthier. I will retire August 1 and have started plans to build a small cottage to one side of the meadow behind the house. It will be a 22 ft diameter geodesic dome, with a side 12 ft room for the bath and laundry. I will move some of my things and my cats into the cottage and start to paint and fix up my Roanoke house. Once it sells, and it seems the market is improving, I can build a larger place that can hold guests. I have a couple of people already interested in renting the cottage. Might have to come up with money for another cottage. The original house is a solid block and stone. The new ones will be geodesic domes. They are able to withstand hurricanes and tornadoes, and with no wooden structure, unlikely to have termite problems, either – a plague of the South. I have been a fan for a very long time, and will be happy to live in one.
This blog is being written to document my start into retirement and all the decisions, experiences, and fun along the way.